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Map out your journey to the cloud by weighing opportunities and concernsIn my last blog, I wrote about identifying opportunities to further your mission with cloud projects.

Once you’ve linked priorities from your mission statement to cloud-based business processes, the next step is to weigh the opportunities versus your concerns for each cloud project. Of course, you have to be concerned about Protected Health Information (PHI) data. Integration with existing on-premises systems can be a challenge, and you need to be aware of specific compliance rules that might affect you. But not all projects involve PHI or other sensitive data, which makes them less complex and potentially better candidates to start the journey to the cloud.

One way to help chart your journey to the cloud is to develop a four-block diagram mapping out projects and where they fall in terms of opportunities and challenges. Such a diagram is obviously organization-specific so the example below might be different in your case.


In the above example, you’ll notice EMR is in the upper right-hand corner. That’s because putting an EMR in the cloud may generate many opportunities, but it isn’t the easiest workload to start with due to data sensitivity and potential implementation complexities. The low-hanging fruit are projects that are high on the opportunity scale and low on the concern scale, which are in the upper-left block. So most health organizations will pursue projects that fall in the upper-left quadrant first.

For example, Martino University Hospital was finding that rapid growth in healthcare data made it harder and more expensive to manage its IT infrastructure. It decided to move to a Microsoft hybrid cloud solution that provides a more powerful, scalable, and flexible IT infrastructure to increase data storage and computing power.

The transition plan was developed in three parts: analyzing the previous infrastructure, identifying the most critical situations, and defining a road map for the new environment. The hospital completed the transition in one month, without blocking the hospital’s critical systems. And it estimates that it has reduced infrastructure operations and maintenance costs by 40 percent. In other words, a great example of high-value results that were achieved relatively quickly and easily-a project that would typically fall into the upper-left block of the diagram above.

Projects in the upper-right quadrant can follow in a later stage once your organization is more comfortable with the cloud. One way to help you move along the spectrum to the projects that have high potential reward but involve data that you’re concerned about putting in the cloud, is to use a data classification strategy. I’ll be covering that in my next blog, so check back here later this month for that topic.

In the meantime, to help you assess risks for your potential cloud projects, check out this Microsoft guideto privacy and security considerations for the adoption of cloud services in the health sector. And please let us know if you have any questions or need help with your journey to the cloud via email, Facebook, orTwitter.